Airship Ambassador: Hi Scott, welcome to the airship!
Scott Wilke: Thanks for inviting me!
AA: This is pretty exciting, the release of your first book! What is The Legend of Everett Forge about?
SW: The Legend of Everett Forge is a Weird West Steampunk tale set in an alternate 1889 where Machines control the American West. The story follows the outlaw, Everett Forge, as he ventures into the Machine territory in search of vengeance against the Machine leader, Omega.
AA: Ahh, a goal of revenge, man versus machine, and Wild West justice. Why choose a steampunk setting and look?
SW: To be honest, it wasn’t a conscious decision. It just kind of developed that way. The story started out in my head over a decade ago as a simple short story about an unnamed gunslinger fighting his way through a town filled with steam-powered robots. At that time, I wasn’t really familiar with Steampunk. I mean, I had a general knowledge of the aesthetic from film and books, but I didn’t realize the depth of it. I revisited the story a number of times over the following couple years adding more to the character and the backstory. After college I moved to Phoenix, AZ and when I went to my first Phoenix Comic Con it finally clicked! There was a large group of Steampunk cosplayers that I saw and I just couldn’t stop staring at them. I told my wife, “I love that look! I love the tech. It’s so cool!” It was that same day, as I’m walking around looking at all these indie comic creators that I finally said, “I need to try this!” So I went home that very night I read up on everything Steampunk I could possibly find and started work on The Legend of Everett Forge. The rest is history.
AA: How does Legend express your vision of steampunk?
SW: Legend explores the darker side of the relationship between man and machine. What happens when something as advanced as artificial intelligence is introduced into a world still learning to adapt to even minor technological advancements? How much distrust will be felt from the human viewpoint as well as the A.I. viewpoint? Ultimately, I think it adds a new perspective to the genre. A lot of the story will be viewed from the robots side of things, something I don’t think is done very often. I look forward to exploring the psyche of a Steampunk robot’s mind.
AA: That’s true, usually automatons of various kinds in steampunk stories aren’t usually treated as equal sentient beings. What was the initial spark for creating Legend?
SW: I wish I could say the inspiration was something profound…it wasn’t. haha. Truth be told, I was inspired to create Legend because I really wanted to see robot cowboys. Since I was a kid I’ve loved robots and I grew up watching Westerns with my parents. Sadly, I couldn’t find a lot of books that married those two things. I remember a professor in college told me, “If you can’t find the stories you really want to read, write them yourself.” So, I did.
AA: That alone is good motivation to create something. What prominent themes will readers find in Legend?
SW: Family and friendship. In that we have the relationship between Forge and Omega. They weren’t always at war. There was a time they were friends and even considered each other family. So what led to the rift between them? We also explore Forge’s history with his family, more specifically, his father. In Issue #2, there is an important scene between the two that shines a lot of light onto Forge and helps explain why he is the way he is.
AA: What will readers learn about the main characters, Everett Forge and Omega?
SW: Forge is your quintessential lone wolf. There are only a couple people he truly trusts, but even them he keeps at a distance. Or tries to at least. He’s a man driven by anger and hatred. He’s a man blinded by an all-consuming desire for revenge. But, deep down, he’s a man who just wants to find peace. He wants to live a normal, quiet life, but just never got the chance. Omega, the Machine leader, is very much like Forge. He’s untrusting and extremely volatile.
Just to give a quick background of the character, Omega is the only Machine to be built with the full range of human emotions. So, similar to Forge, Omega is driven by anger and hatred. The only difference between them is the reasoning for these emotions. But, as people will come to find, even their reasons are not all that different from one another.
AA: Interesting. Do they change throughout the arc of the whole story, or do they cause the world change around them, instead?
SW: That’s tough to say as I don’t want to give anything away. Short answer, they do change, but as for how they change…you’ll have to read to find out.
Time for a pause in our chat with Scott. Join us again when Scott talks about some of the behind-the-scenes details.
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